Every growing small business will at some point ponder whether to hire a full-time marketing specialist instead of continuing to outsource that function to contractors. In doing so, it pays first to have a very clear idea of what you are trying to achieve.
Like every profession, marketing these days is becoming much more specialised. Indeed, the increasing technological sophistication of digital marketing is requiring the development of new skillsets that past generations of marketers would find completely foreign.
If you are seeking greater personalisation and trying to get a clearer idea of each prospect's journey to becoming a client – from initial engagement over social media to trawling your website to email and phone calls and onto lead conversion and retention – you’ll need someone with data analysis skills.
Are you seeking to automate your marketing efforts? A software expert can help you put together a platform that allows you to reach multiple channels quickly and efficiently. But be aware, this is always a much bigger task than most people imagine.
If your biggest issue is content creation, you may want to lean more towards someone with strong writing and design skills, with video production and editing thrown in.
And if you’d really rather just outsource of all of this, then your smartest investment may be a marketing project manager – someone who can ensure you’re spending your limited resources in the right places and in ways that will give you the best return.
The most important thing to remember is to connect your hiring strategy to the marketing strategy for the business. Don’t just hire data analysts, for instance, because you read somewhere that this is where all the cool stuff is happening.
A safe option is to hire an all-rounder, someone who can show you creative ways to build engagement without spending a fortune, but who also has sufficient digital skills to know what’s working and what’s not. In the early stages, you can focus on building the technological platform you need, one that gives you the scope to do more things later on.
Eventually: as you grow, you can build out a more rounded team grouped around the broad areas of operations, creative and strategy. And ensure you build close collaboration between sales and marketing so that the two are constantly talking to one another.
Like everything else in a business, marketing works best if it is closely integrated with the other functions. That means you’re not just looking for skillsets, you’re looking for collaborators – people who are effective team players and who are good at building relationships.
Close integration will help ensure your marketing efforts are not wasted and means you are more likely to focus on the areas where you can make the biggest impact quickly.
People who have done all this will tell you not to try and do it all at once. Over-investing can risk lumbering yourself with technology that quickly becomes redundant. So there is an added advantage in going for the low-hanging fruit first.
Finally, while marketing is changing, a few things haven’t changed. The success of any endeavour will always start with understanding the customer and defining your value proposition. The tools for doing that have evolved, but the central task remains.
If you're interested in learning more about the kinds of content that our colleagues at Regis Media can provide to your firm, then please take a look at our website.